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Which fleece vests are best?

As soon as the weather gets colder, folks pull their coats out of the closet and get ready for a wardrobe change. Thick winter jackets and sweaters are great when the temperature drops, but they are often bulky and limit movement. 

However, you can opt for something slim and versatile if you expect slightly warmer weather, especially since you can wear them throughout the year. That’s why adding a fleece vest to your wardrobe is a great idea. Style, sizing and design varies between brands, but one top pick is Columbia Cathedral Peak Fleece Vest. It has durable 360g fleece and features a flip up collar for staying warm in windy weather.

What to know before you buy a fleece vest

What is fleece?

Fleece is a completely man-made fabric that weaves together plastic and polyester fibers to create a soft, smooth material that is both lightweight and warm. It’s excellent at retaining heat and repelling moisture. 

While fleece is comfortable and casual, it creates a neat and polished appearance that can spice up a wide range of outfits for any number of occasions. 


Always check the sizing chart and user reviews before making a purchase. Sizing often varies between brands, and some brands have different sizing for their fleece vests than for their coats or other jackets. If you plan to layer the vest on top of other clothing, look for a looser fit. If you just expect to wear a single thin shirt underneath the vest on cooler days, a well-fitted vest would be ideal. 


One of the main selling points of a fleece vest is its thin, lightweight material. There are thicker, more heavy-duty vests you can purchase if you need something warmer. But if you just need something to layer under a coat, keep it thin and traditional. If you just need a little extra warmth, perhaps consider a fleece scarf instead of a fleece vest.

What to look for in a fleece vest


A vest with insulated lining maintains a slim, smooth appearance on the outside while providing extra warmth on the inside. Some vests even have windproof and water repellent features to protect you from the elements. If you plan to do any hiking, boating or camping with a fleece vest, consider finding one with a lining. 


Some budget-friendly fleece vests don’t have pockets, or if they have pockets they are a bit shallow. If you want a vest that has multiple pockets, inside and outside, look for a high-quality vest with zippers so you can store your items securely. 

How much you can expect to spend on a fleece vest

Fleece vests vary in pricing from $20-$100 depending on the brand, quality of the material and features. If you want a water-resistant vest that features good lining and design details, you’ll likely have to spend more. A basic vest costs around $20-$30, and more premium ones cost closer to $40-$100.

Fleece vest FAQ

When should I wear a fleece vest?

A. Fleece vests are extremely versatile, so you can wear them throughout the year. They are functional and fashionable and allow for additional warmth while giving your arms full mobility. It’s best to wear a fleece vest for outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking or even a walk around the block.

Can I put my fleece vest in the washing machine?

A.  Most fleece vests are machine washable, but you should always check the care instructions on the label. It is usually best to launder in cold or lukewarm water on a gentle cycle. To keep the colors and material bright, unzip the vest and turn it inside out before washing it. And it’s usually best to hang dry vests to keep the vest structure intact.

What are the best fleece vests to buy?

Top fleece vest 

Columbia Cathedral Peak Fleece Vest

Columbia Cathedral Peak Fleece Vest

What you need to know: This rich polyester fleece vest offers all the warmth of a bigger coat without the bulk.

What you’ll love: It’s extremely soft to the touch and will keep your core warm while you’re outdoors. The extra-large zippered pocket will fit all your must-haves while you are on the move. It’s available in three basic colors, so you can easily match them with the rest of your wardrobe.

What you should consider: Some clients noticed Columbia vests run about one size smaller than Columbia jackets.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top fleece vest for the money

Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Vest

Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Vest

What you need to know: This is a budget-friendly, high-quality fleece vest that provides both warmth and comfort.

What you’ll love: Made from 100% polyester, this soft vest has a comfortable yet polished fit that’s perfect for outdoor activities. You can also layer it over a button-down to create a polished and professional look. This vest is machine washable for easily laundering and is made to last. 

What you should consider: Customers noted this vest runs a little short, especially on taller individuals.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Outdoor Ventures Men's Fleece-Lined Vest

Outdoor Ventures Men’s Fleece-Lined Vest

What you need to know: You can mix fashion, style, warmth and comfort with this dazzling vest.

What you’ll love: This ultra-cozy fleece-lined vest is plush inside and out to keep you warm on cold days without additional bulk. It’s extremely versatile, and you can wear the collar popped up or down. It has plenty of pockets to hold your cell phone, wallet, keys and still has room to keep your hands warm.

What you should consider: If you want a slim fit, it’s best to purchase your usual size. If you want a loose look, go for a size up. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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